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University of Minnesota engineering researcher finds new way to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Date:11/22/2010

re often operated at 95 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 37 degrees Celsius).

"Many digesters are operated at our body temperature, which is perfect for resistant bacteria to survive and maybe even grow," LaPara said.

Lab research by LaPara and his graduate student David Diehl shows that anaerobic digestion of municipal wastewater solids at high temperatures (as high as 130 degrees Fahrenheit or 55 degrees Celsius) is capable of destroying up to 99.9 percent of various genes that confer resistance in bacteria. In contrast, conventional anaerobic digestion (operated at 95 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit or about 37 degrees Celsius) demonstrated only a slight ability to eliminate the same set of genes.

"Our latest research suggests that high temperature anaerobic digestion offers a novel approach to slow the proliferation of antibiotic resistance." LaPara said. "This new method could be used in combination with other actions, like limiting the use of antibiotics, to extend the lifespan of these precious drugs."

LaPara also pointed out that raising the temperature of anaerobic digestion at wastewater treatment plants is not cost-prohibitive because the digesting bacteria produce methane gas that can be used to heat the reactor.


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Contact: Rhonda Zurn
rzurn@umn.edu
612-626-7959
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert

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